Practice Relating to Rule 87. Humane Treatment
In its judgment in the Ala’una case in 2003, Israel’s High Court of Justice stated:
Counsel for the petitioners argued before us that the soldiers at the checkpoints do not properly follow the binding rules, but we are unable to consider a mere, general claim of this kind. We can only recommend to the respondent that the persons in charge of the checkpoints continue to instruct the soldiers at the checkpoints that they conduct themselves with the requisite patience and humaneness and without creating hardship for residents of the villages to an extent that is greater than necessary.
In its judgment in the Physicians for Human Rights v Commander of IDF Forces in the Gaza Strip case in 2004, Israel’s High Court of Justice stated:
10. The military operations of the IDF [Israel Defense Forces] in Rafah, to the extent that they affect civilians, are governed by Hague Convention IV Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land 1907 (hereafter – the Hague Convention) and the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War – 1949 (hereafter – the Fourth Geneva Convention). In addition, they are also governed by the principles of Israeli administrative law. See HCJ 393/82 Almasualiah v. Commander of the IDF Forces in the West Bank; HCJ 358/88 Association for Civil Rights in Israel v. GOC Central Command. According to these principles, the IDF must act with integrity (both substantive and procedural), with reasonableness and proportionality, and appropriately balance individual liberty and the public interest. See HCJ 3278/02 The Center for the Defense of the Individual v. The Commander of the IDF Forces in the West Bank.
11. For our purposes, the central injunction of international humanitarian law applicable in times of combat is that civilian persons are “entitled, in all circumstances, to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions and practices, and their manners and customs. They shall at all times be humanely treated, and shall be protected especially against all acts of violence or threats thereof.” Fourth Geneva Convention, § 27. See also the Hague Convention, § 46. This normative framework was formulated by Gasser:
Civilians who do not take part in hostilities shall be respected and protected. They are entitled to respect for their persons, their honour, their family rights, their religious convictions, and their manners and customs. Their property is also protected. (See Hans Peter Gasser, Protection of the Civilian Population, in The Handbook of Humanitarian Law in Armed Conflicts 211 (D. Fleck, ed., 1995).)
The basic assumption of this injunction is the recognition of the importance of man, the sanctity of his life, and the value of his liberty. Compare The Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, § 1; J.S. Pictet, Commentary: Fourth Geneva Convention 199 (1958). His life may not be harmed, and his dignity must be protected. This basic duty, however, is not absolute. It is subject to “such measures of control and security in regard to protected persons as may be necessary as a result of the war.” See Fourth Geneva Convention, § 27. These measures may not “affect the fundamental rights of the persons concerned.” See Pictet, at 207. These measures must be proportionate. See Fleck, at 220. The military operations are directed against terrorists and hostile combatants. They are not directed against civilians. See Fleck, at 212. When civilians, as often happens, enter a zone of combat – and especially when terrorists turn civilians into “human shields” – everything must be done in order to protect the dignity of the local civilian population. The duty of the military commander is double. First, he must refrain from operations that may cause harm to the civilian population. This duty is formulated in the negative. Second, he must take all measures required to ensure the safety of civilians. This latter duty calls for positive action. See Fleck, at 212. Both these duties – which are not always easily distinguishable – should be reasonably and proportionately implemented given considerations of time and place.
12. Together with this central injunction regarding civilians’ human dignity during times of combat, international humanitarian law imposes several specific obligations. These obligations do not exhaust the fundamental principle. They only constitute specific expressions of that principle.
In its judgment in the Zaharan Yunis Muhammad Mara’abe case in 2005, the Supreme Court of Israel stated:
[T]he legality of the Israeli settlement activity in the area does not affect the military commander’s duty – as the long arm of the State of Israel – to ensure the life, dignity and honor, and liberty of every person present in the area under belligerent occupation (see Y. Shany “Capacities and Inadequacies: a Look at the Two Separation Barrier Cases” 38 Isr. L. Rev. 230, 243 (2005)). Even if the military commander acted in a manner that conflicted the law of belligerent occupation at the time he agreed to the establishment of this or that settlement – and that issue is not before us, and we shall express no opinion on it – that does not release him from his duty according to the law of belligerent occupation itself, to preserve the lives, safety, and dignity of every one of the Israeli settlers. The ensuring of the safety of Israelis present in the area is cast upon the shoulders of the military commander (compare § 3 of The Fourth Geneva Convention). Professor Kretzmer discussed this:
“[A] theory that posits that the fact that civilians are living in an illegal settlement should prevent a party to the conflict from taking any measures to protect them would seem to contradict fundamental notions of international humanitarian law. After all, the measures may be needed to protect civilians (rather than the settlements in which they live) against a serious violation of IHL” (Kretzmer, at p. 93).
In its judgment in Physicians for Human Rights v. Prime Minister of Israel in 2009, concerning the humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip consequent to the start of Israeli military operations (“Cast Lead”) there in December 2008, Israel’s High Court of Justice stated:
The fundamental provision of international humanitarian law that applies while conducting hostilities (both in a territory subject to a belligerent occupation and in the territory of the parties to the conflict) is enshrined in art. 27 of the  Fourth Geneva Convention, which provides that protected civilians – whether they are located in a territory that is subject to a belligerent occupation or a territory that is under the sovereignty of the parties to the conflict – are entitled in all circumstances, inter alia, to be humanely treated and to be protected against all acts of violence or threats thereof (see also art. 46 of the  Hague Regulations).
In July 2010, in a second update of its July 2009 report on Israeli operations in Gaza between 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated: “The IDF [Israel Defense Forces] operational orders emphasize the duty to protect the dignity of civilians in the course of an armed conflict”.